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Canadian Rockies Hiking, not just Banff!

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posts: 33
reviews: 19
Canadian Rockies Hiking, not just Banff!

Just bumped into this topic at TripAdvisor here, so might as well.... A bunch of us (likely 6) are planning a Canadian Rockies trip next summer (we're in New York), likely driving from Calgary around, to Banff, Jasper (naturally the Icefields Pkwy also), and possibly Waterton/Glacier national parks (likely 2 weeks up there). We WILL want to walk/hike around, mostly same-day hikes (short or long). So, now this is a tall order - what say are your 3 most-recommended trails around Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, and Waterton/Glacier? Of course, even any "1" recommendation is appreciated. Any lodging recommendation is also desired.

posts: 426
reviews: 73
1. Re: Canadian Rockies Hiking, not just Banff!


-> One of the top hikes in Canada is the Crypt Lake Trail. It's a full-day hike, not too difficult and absolutely stunning


Lake Louise:

-> My favourite hike is the one to the tea house at the Plain of Six Glaciers. About 4 hours return


Edmonton, Canada
posts: 4,377
reviews: 67
2. Re: Canadian Rockies Hiking, not just Banff!

This will help: amazon.com/Dont-Waste-Your-Canadian-Rockies/…

...and if you're open to Kananaskis (our little secret) as well, then: amazon.com/Where-Locals-Hike-Canadian-Rockie…

Your library may have copies.

Edited: 11:16 am, January 04, 2014
posts: 415
reviews: 12
3. Re: Canadian Rockies Hiking, not just Banff!

Helen Lake on the icefields parkway and Sentinel pass at Moraine lake.....the above guides haven't steered us wrong

Calgary, Canada
Destination Expert
for Calgary, TripAdvisor Support
posts: 24,200
reviews: 67
4. Re: Canadian Rockies Hiking, not just Banff!

Kananaskis was hit hard by the flooding of June 2013. I'd strongly recommend checking the trail reports before you head out:


Banff, Canada
Destination Expert
for Banff, Banff National Park
posts: 4,711
reviews: 76
5. Re: Canadian Rockies Hiking, not just Banff!

Ummm - just curious. If you want to talk about Canadian Rockies, "not just Banff!", why would you post on the "just Banff" forum, instead of the Canadian Rockies forum where you've posted up until now?

I'll put in a vote for Parker Ridge at the north end of Banff National Park -- short and spectacular.

Edited: 7:22 pm, January 04, 2014
posts: 33
reviews: 19
6. Re: Canadian Rockies Hiking, not just Banff!


Thanks. Guess I just saw this and jumped on it. I actually searched a little bit; may be the wrong words were put in.... Anyhow, anyone posting on Banff I'm sure would know all the others.

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
posts: 13,256
reviews: 87
7. Re: Canadian Rockies Hiking, not just Banff!

Jasper NP: (in no particular order) Wilcox Pass, Opal Hills, Sulphur Skyline, Cavell Meadows, Bald Hills (as long as you do the loop in the upper meadows and not just to the hitching post look-out point)

Banff NP: Larch Valley/Sentinel Pass, Eiffel Lake/Wenkchemna Pass, Plain of Six Glaciers/Beehive/Lake Agnes (strong hikers can do all in one hike - note that this is a very busy trail so an early start is recommended). Have heard wonderful things about Helen Lake/Cirque Peak but have not done it yet (the trailhead is a bit too far from my home in Jasper for a day hike). Strong hikers can also do Molar Pass or North Molar Pass as a day hike - both are spectacular. Parker Ridge is also a spectacular hike, and can be combined with Wilcox Pass in one day - the two trailheads are about 4 or 5 km apart. It's kinda cool to see the one spot where you were from the other, and vice versa. Nigel Pass is also wonderful. Note that these two trail heads (Parker and Nigel) are both in northern BNP and closer to Jasper townsite than to Banff.

Edited: 12:05 am, January 05, 2014
posts: 33
reviews: 19
8. Re: Canadian Rockies Hiking, not just Banff!

Thanks a million, krp329, Mr. or Ms. Much appreciated!

We will have fun trying to do which one, since the 5-6 of us have different hiking "tolerance" (strength). We're city dwellers (NYC).... excuse, excuse. Hiking is the main reason visiting national parks IMO.

Happy New Year to everyone who's given advice here.

posts: 2,698
9. Re: Canadian Rockies Hiking, not just Banff!

I think that Parker Ridge and Wilcox Pass, both near the Banff/Jasper park boundary, offer the best reward to effort ratios in the region. Parker Ridge is a short though steep ascent to an amazing view of the Saskatchewan Glacier in the valley on the other side. At Wilcox Pass it's a short hike onto a tundra meadow with a great view of the Columbia Icefields and lots of bighorn sheep.

For a hard all-day hike that will leave you sore and be worth it, consider Mt Bourgeau. Sentinel Pass is also good and a bit more reasonable length-wise.

Sulpher Skyline is probably the easiest hike that gets you onto a true peak. It's an uphill slog all the way but on a well-groomed path and not super long.

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
posts: 13,256
reviews: 87
10. Re: Canadian Rockies Hiking, not just Banff!

I like that wording, tws - "tundra meadow"! :) I often wonder, when I mention "alpine meadow", if people who may not be familiar with mountains can visualize what that is... this is more descriptive.

fijinz-all, if you are all runners or road cyclists, or people that go to the gym regularly, you probably won't have too much trouble with soreness. But unless you've all done at least some walking (preferably with some hills) or stair climbing, I would start out with short hikes with not too much elevation gain (and loss - it's always the downhills that get me!) Any of the hikes I have listed make me sore at the beginning of the season ... it makes getting downstairs so much fun the next day! ;-)

What level of difficulty of hike are you looking for, in say, distance or time? What is the approximate age range of the group, and are any of them real couch potatoes? That information would help us give you better recommendations.